Chamonix now firmly among South Africa’s Top 3 Pinot Noir cellars

OVER THE past 10 years, six wineries stand out as the producers with the best track records when it comes to South Africa’s top quality Pinot Noir: Hamilton Russell, Bouchard Finlayson, Sumaridge (all in the Hemel-en-Aarde area outside Hermanus), Chamonix (Franschhoek), Meerlust (Stellenbosch) and Paul Cluver (Elgin). Over the past 18 months, however, three Pinot producers have been winning most acclaim: Chamonix, Hamilton Russell and Paul Cluver.
 
Actually, from the Top 10 local Pinot Noir producers over the past decade, Meerlust’s 2009 was judged best in class at the Trophy Wine Show last year while their 2010 vintage was highly recommended in Platter’s South African Wine Guide, and Muratie’s George Paul Canitz 2009 achieved good reviews at Veritas as well as in Wine magazine. But otherwise, with a few exceptions, it’s been a case of three cellars sweeping the boards – Paul Cluver with their 2008 or 2009 or 2010 vintages in Platter’s, the Classic Wine Trophy competition and Wine magazine, and both Hamilton Russell Vineyards and Chamonix with two of their vintages on various stages both locally and in the UK.
 
Between Jan 2011 and May 2012, Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir 2009 was highly rated in South Africa’s Wine magazine and at the International Wine Challenge in the UK, while the 2010 vintage won accolades for HRV owner Anthony Hamilton Russell and winemaker Hannes Storm in the Top 100 SA Wine Challenge, at the Classic awards and at the Decanter World Wine Awards in the UK.
 
Chamonix’s 2009 Reserve Pinot Noir scored well in Wine magazine, at the Classic awards and at the Trophy Wine Show. However the 2010 has turned out to be even more of a dream year for cellar owner Chris Hellinger and winemaker Gottfried Mocke: 5 Stars in Platter’s, gold at the Classic awards and then trophies at the Decanter awards and the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show.
 
Not inexpensive, good SA Pinot – although a darn sight cheaper than the best from Burgundy, France: Paul Cluver at R120 a bottle, Muratie at R150, Meerlust at R210, Chamonix at R225, HRV at R290 and Paul Cluver Seven Flags at R350.